belief (1)


GUEST POST: " Faith and belief are related but not synonymous"


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We don’t have to look very hard to see that we live in a world of seekers. People are looking for something. They often don’t even know what they are looking for. Still, recognize it or not, this seeking is rooted in the search for God. Being made by Him, we naturally seek Him. Can it be that simple? Yes.  

We just have a sense, no matter how some might try to tamp it down, that there is more. More than this world. More than we can explain without help. C.S. Lewis puts it this way: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” (1)

The universe points us to God. Our hearts yearn for Him. In our search, the book of Hebrews has the beautiful promise that God “rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Heb 11:6) This is a truth that brings immense comfort, doesn’t it? While we may not understand everything, while there may be questions, if we seek Him to understand Him and to obey Him, He will reward us. He satisfies our seeking heart.

We find this promise is in the context of the great hall of fame of the faithful, where the writer of the books of Hebrews lists for his readers several of the spiritual giants of faith in Jewish history.  They are examples of those who followed God at great personal sacrifice not knowing what the future held, but unwavering in their belief that God would reward them.

“How do we please God?”, is the question implied by the writer of the book of Hebrews. His answer: “It’s impossible without faith!”   Further, what is the point in coming before God if we don’t believe in Him? (See Heb 11:6) Seeking, believing, and having faith are inextricably connected for the believer and the one who is coming to know Jesus. They all feed and strengthen each other.

We cannot have faith without belief, but belief is not faith. James makes that clear when he says that demons believe but their belief does not result in faithful actions that glorify God (see Jms 2:14-19).  This is not a contradiction regarding the gracious gift of our salvation that is independent of any works. Rather, it is a statement of the quality of faith, rooted in belief.

The idea that faith and belief are related but not synonymous may be clear to the mature believer. What about the one who doesn’t know Jesus? In our world the assumption that people have a basic understanding of biblical ideas just doesn’t hold true any longer. If anything, there may be a negative view of the church and of those who call themselves Christians. So, in many senses the seeker is starting from square one. From zero. Maybe even with a deficit.

God still loves those who don’t know Him or follow Him, and He draws them to Himself. Just as He rewarded those who were faithfully obedient in the Bible, He still rewards those who earnestly seek him, even when the seeker knows nothing about Him. Perhaps, even when starting from a place of confusion or negativism, God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

I have taken comfort in this promise and I have given comfort from it as well. It is not a trite or easily tossed about comfort. This comfort requires “earnest” seeking. There is no promise for easy answers. If there is a secondary assurance it may be that the seeking isn’t easy. It is a struggle when the whys go unanswered, when the way is uncertain. Still, we continue to earnestly seek Him.

For the one who is seeking God for the first time, this promise may not be apparent but it is still there. He rewards the seeking. God will not leave the seeker to wander. What’s more, this promise provides comfort to the sharer as well. God rewards the seeker. He will provide what is needed. He even provides the “measure of faith” (Rom 12:3) needed to believe. I can be used as a tool but it is God who provides the reward. He does the saving. When it comes to sharing my faith and the gospel, what a comfort that is!

While we should keep in mind that it is the “earnest” seeker who will be rewarded, let me be clear that only God can judge the sincerity of one’s heart and whether or not the seeker is earnest. So, I am not saying we, as sharers, shouldn’t waste our time on those whom we believe just aren’t serious enough in their search. No, that’s not it at all. What I am saying is that we can take comfort in the assurance that our efforts are not in vain. Even when it seems that we have failed, God rewards the seeker. We just need to be open to being used in whatever way we can be.

I can say with confidence that it helps, when we share with someone seeking God, to be able to say: “If you truly seek Him, God will reward your search. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be honest. Don’t worry if you don’t see the answers right now. God will give you the answers, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, keep seeking.”



(1) C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, book III, chap. 10

© 2024 Dave Foucar
Waxhaw, NC


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